Who is your online community for?

by Martin Reed on 5 March 2014 in Snippets

This is especially relevant if you’re at the planning stage for an online community or if you’re stuck with a community that doesn’t seem to be working.

The purpose of your online community needs to be aligned with the desires of the members you’re hoping to attract (and keep).

The problem is, most of the time these values aren’t the same. The result is a failed online community.

Ask a company why they want a community, they may say things like:

  • So we can tell members about new products and services,
  • So we have a permanent pool for cheap focus groups,
  • So we can gain a competitive advantage,
  • Because everyone else is building one.

Ask an individual why they’re a member of an online community, they may say things like:

  • I have a sense of recognition and belonging,
  • I feel valued and appreciated as a member,
  • I am learning more about my interests,
  • I have friends here.

If you’re planning a community, or managing one that’s struggling, draw up a list with 2 columns.

Column 1: What we want from a community. Column 2: What members want from a community.

Your aim is to ensure that column 2 is significantly longer than column 1.

Ideally, column 1 will also say ‘See column 2′.

Now, change the title for column 2 to: What we’ll give members of our online community.

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